by Joy Loverde
Talk about it. Start a book-discussion group that meets monthly at your elder’s house. Invite friends and neighbors. Beyond books, the group can discuss poems, short stories, movies, and bible verses. If reading books is difficult, check out books on tape and videos from the local library.
Work it out. Work sites come alive when children accompany their parents to work. Why not share this important part of your life with your older family members? Won’t they beam with pride as you introduce them to co-workers? Keep the visit short, perhaps during lunch hours since spending the entire day may be too tiresome for both of you. Take pictures of this memorable outing.
Time it right. You’ve heard of book-of-the-month, now there’s YOU once a month. Decide on something you can realistically do for them on a monthly basis – from washing the car and organizing the closet to computer lessons and a night at the movies. Make a beautiful card and insert 12 coupons with promises of special activities for the year ahead.
Phone home. Budget-conscious elders love receiving long-distance phone cards to call family and friends as often as they like. What a great way to stay in touch and to take away the guilt of spending money for long distance calls.
Set the table. Purchase brightly colored dishes, drinking glasses, coordinating place mats, and flatware, and every time they sit down to eat they’ll be reminded of you.
Shape up. The 50 and over fitness centers make working out together more enjoyable since programs and services are tailored to meet the needs of the older mind and body. Purchase a joint membership and attend classes together on a regular basis.
Ham it up. Performing together in a community theatre production is nothing less than fun and invigorating. From auditioning and attending rehearsals to opening night, this is one experience that will be talked about for years to come. Ask someone to video tape the play and transfer to DVD for easy viewing.
Combine work and pleasure. Do you have a work conference coming up in your near future? Consider taking your elder with you. These days, juggling work/life responsibilities is not easy, and employers are beginning to see the benefits of encouraging employees to combine work travel with family vacations. They know how difficult it may be for you to get away, and bringing your favorite family members with you might be a “win-win” solution. While you’re off to a workshop, loved ones can shop or relax by the pool.